What I Write
Bang. And all is silent.
I’d like to say that was that. I’d like to say that the last thing I saw was the disturbance in the crowds and then there was peace. The sunlight gleaming off the pristine barrel. A flash of light. A puff of smoke. I’d like to say it was like that.
I saw the crazy, then the gun. The flash followed quickly by the sound of a backfire. Then the world slowed, as if fate insisted on showing me my final moments in slow motion.
The bullet hurtles through the air at 300 metres per second, but takes an age to reach its final destination. Tiny specks of dirt are flung into the air as it spins, like inhabitants escaping a falling satellite.
It strikes just above my right eye. There’s no pain, no searing agony. For the briefest moment there’s an intense heat that reminds me of those drunken student games were some joker would heat a knife and touch it to your skin.
There’s a smell of burning rubber, but that could just be the factory across the plaza.
My eyesight goes first, the bullet tearing through neurons that took millennia for our species to evolve. It only heightens the other senses. A metallic taste drifts across my tongue.
I’m still standing, I think, but my upper body no longer feels properly attached to my legs anymore. There’s feeling, but no control.
The bullet emerges from the top of my skull, slowed but not finished on its journey. It embeds itself into an ornate clock behind the podium. The only innocent victim in this sorry affair. On the plus side it’ll be worth a fortune tomorrow.
Images flash before me and I’m struck by a sudden desire to see my first sweetheart. 24 years and thousands of miles away. Did I mean everything I’d said on that park bench a lifetime ago? Am I standing here today because of that moment, or is that just one of the millions of decisions that led me down this path?
A ringing in my ears tries to pull me back to some form of reality. I’m on my back, or in the arms of someone. I think of my mother. I should visit her while I’m in town. Guilt hits me like a knife as I remember her funeral and the fury of my brother. He was always a good man. I should visit him while I’m in town.
Time moves on. I hear someone talking medical matters and a strange pinching at my skin. Is that the doctor checking for signs of life or just the random firing of more buggered neurons?
Am I alive? Is anyone anymore?
Things seemed so clear only a moment ago but now they are… disjointed. I’m back in the plaza, but the people aren’t as they were. Angela isn’t by my side. Was she ever truly by my side? There’s a bang, a bullet, heat on my forehead.
I’m back in the dark. There’s pressure behind my skull. Is that a vice? What kind of medieval hospital is this? Someone is sobbing in the distance. It helps to imagine it’s someone who truly cares, rather than the sycophants who just follow.
I imagine my first peace rally. There were no sycophants then, just believers. Believers who trusted in me, in something greater than themselves. Or is that just what my ‘handlers’ wanted me to think? Was it even a peace rally? Everything is so muddled now.
The vice is gone, so are the voices, replaced with the soulless beep of a machine. I guess I am alive. I push my arm out against the darkness and I’m immersed in water, swimming against the current, my brother alongside. Or is he just in front? He always was a competitive bastard.
Darkness again. A familiar voice. Is that Angela?
‘Billy!’ Despite the dark I can sense the tears. Not that they’re for me. Why would they be for me? Tears are best saved for those who matter.
‘I don’t know if you can hear me’.
I can, I presume I say.
‘We need you Billy. They’re on the move. The move to war. You have to tell me what to do.’
|What I Write||
From political science fiction to alternate history I have a love of building complex worlds, only to knock them down again. I’m currently working on my first novel, ‘Orion’.
My Write-a-thon Goals
My aim is to write one short story a week, in line with the Clarion West workshop.
Simply to help out Clarion West any way I can.